Q & A with
UNCOUNTED Filmmaker, David Earnhardt
What inspired you to make this film?
It started with what went wrong in the presidential election
of 2004. I had lots of questions about the validity of the 2004
election results. The tabulated results were so out of synch
with the exit polls. I knew about the lack of security in
paperless electronic voting – and I knew about the long
lines and missing machines in Ohio. So, I could see there
was plenty of evidence that the irregularities likely
affected the outcome of the presidential race. My biggest
shock was that the mainstream media was completely ignoring
the story. For example, I read the New York Times a couple
of days after the election and there wasn’t one word from
anyone questioning the election results. Fortunately, there
was plenty of information on the Internet. I read everything
I could to increase my knowledge – and started
considering whether we should do a documentary to bring
focus to what went wrong with the 2004 election.
How did you get the film started?
I have been working in film & video as a producer, director
and executive for 30 years and have owned a film & video
production company for 15 years. But I had never made a
full-length documentary. It was pretty much a “figure it out
from the ground up” kind of thing. I considered going
on the road to meet with many of the people involved with
this issue and to gather footage for the documentary. Just as I was considering all
this, the National Election Reform Conference was held here
in Nashville. This conference attracted many of the very
people I wanted to interview - journalists, computer
experts, activists, and rank and file voters from 30 states
all gathering to discuss what went wrong in the 2004
election, and how to keep it from happening again. The
footage we gathered at this historic conference gave me the
foundation from which to build the film.
What is the most shocking detail that you uncovered
while making this film?
I was astounded that people across the country were forced
to wait in lines as long as 15 hours to vote. And it was in
Democratic leaning precincts across the board. People were
still in lines in Ohio even after the election had been
called for Bush. And the people in these long lines were mostly African American. To me, it looked like
Jim Crow, pure and simple.
Who is the most important single figure in this
Probably Athan Gibbs. He was an accountant who had no direct
experience with elections, other than being a voter. When he
saw the millions of votes that went uncounted in the 2000
election, he felt he HAD to do something. He created voting
machine software that enabled voters to verify that their
votes have been received, recorded and counted. His voting
was light years beyond the paperless and unverifiable
electronic voting machines that count most of our votes
these days. He died in an auto accident before he could
finish his work.
What are the key messages in UNCOUNTED?
Not only do people need to be aware; they must also
be vigilant. The issue of the integrity of our vote is
something people take for granted; it’s part of our identity
as a country and as individuals – and it’s the core, the
essence, of a democracy. It’s the individual who has to be
vigilant and protect these very ideals we have as a country
– and nothing is more key to our freedom than the sanctity
of the vote.
How do you view the future
Looking at the 2006 mid-term election, there is major
evidence of vote shifting and manipulation of the vote
totals. In fact, there is evidence that there were even more
uncounted votes in 2006 than in 2004, so the problem is
getting worse instead of better. The last thing people need
to do is relax. Our vote is not protected.
What do you hope UNCOUNTED will inspire in others?
I hope those who are unfamiliar with the issue go “Uh-oh”
and understand the need to keep their eyes open. Learning to
interpret the news is a good start, because a questioning
and alert electorate is more likely to take action when they
see something is wrong. I want to instill the idea that
democracy must be defended and constantly monitored,
otherwise it will wither away and die. We can choose to
fight or roll over. I think it’s a fight worth winning.
If you had one wish about UNCOUNTED and the issue
of election fraud, what would it be?
Election manipulation rarely even makes a top ten issues
list. But think about it – if your vote doesn’t count, then
nothing else really matters. It’s really the foundation for
all other issues. If I can raise the level of awareness for
how critical the issue is – that this, really, is the #1
issue - then I think I will have done my part.